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La Vuelta | Stage 9

03:10:20

Replay

Roglic consolidates red

He is now 28 seconds ahead of the next-best rider, Enric Mas. As expected Grosschartner tumbles from the podium spots.
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It's Lopez – Mas' teammate – in third place now, with Jack Haig in fourth after a very assured day in the saddle.

What happened to the moustache?

Victory for Damiano Caruso!

Just the 71 kilometres and three mountains solo. Casual.
When the chasers come through, Enric Mas leads out the sprint and – quite predictably – Roglic comes round him and nicks the bonus seconds. Mas takes third on the stage.
The next group to come through some 40 seconds further back is Jack Haig, Miguel Angel Lopez and then Yates in that order.

Flamme rouge

Caruso has the stage win in the bag, but Roglic and Mas are still closing in on him! They're 1'45" behind now.

2km to go – Yates group losing 20 seconds right now

Bernal just got dropped again, before fighting his way back into contact for the third time. What a warrior.
Caruso is nearing the flamme rouge and he is in pain.

3km to go – Bernal battles hard

Looks like he'll lose some time today to Roglic, but he has successfully fought his way back to the Yates-Lopez-Haig group.
Mas and Roglic are cooperating with each other here. Mas is the virtual second place on the road now.

4km to go – They catch Yates

Looks like Mas is the main man at Movistar now. Lopez has dropped off, and it's now Roglic and Mas together in the pursuit of Caruso. They've caught and dropped Yates – is he paying for those bombastic attacks?
Roglic is climbing this mountain in the drops, Pantani-style.
Caruso's gap is 2'38" now.

5km to go – Massive attack from Yates!

He very cheekily used the camera motorbike there to launch his move and the man from Bury is absolutely flying up this mountain. Grande, Adam!
Lopez chases from the group of favourites.
Bernal is dropped.

Counter-attack, Carapaz!

The chasing group of secondary favourites just made contact with the Roglic-Yates group, and as soon as they did Carapaz attacked over the top.
It didn't stick, unfortunately for the Ecuadorean, but this is electrifying racing now.
They've caught Bardet, who is now tailgunning on this super-elite pack.

7km to go – Yates goes again!

This is the real Vuelta playing out right here. Roglic, Bernal, Lopez and Mas are the only ones who can go with him this time. The Briton looks in phenomenal shape.
Grosschartner looks to be losing second place here.

Roglic attacks!

The defending champion skipped away from the group he was just in, to bridge over to Yates and Lopez. He did that with consummate ease.
Now the red jersey group is Lopez, Mas (who followed Roglic over), Kuss just barely hanging on, Yates and Bernal!
These attacks have chopped two minutes out of Caruso's lead, but he still has 3'38".

8km to go – Grosschartner, Mader, Meinjtes in contention

All three are still in the red jersey group.

Yates attacks!

He has MIguel Angel Lopez on his wheel, with Sepp Kuss also coming up to tag them. Just as Kuss catches them, however, Yates kicks the pace up again!

9km to go – Caruso is in a race with himself now

He can save the day for Bahrain, but now their GC ambitions will probably change. Will they throw their weight behind Aussie Jack Haig? He's hanging tough in the group of favourites.
Sivakov has whittled the red jersey group down to about ten, and then Adam Yates attacks!

And Landa now in big trouble!

This might explain why the team wanted Caruso up the road. He looks to be on a very bad day, with all the Bahrain helpers in the peloton immediately there to help him as he gets tailed off from the red jersey group.
Still Sivakov ploughs on.

10km to go – Bouwman also dropped

Jumbo's domestiques are dropping off now. Ineos still have plenty of their riders at the front of the bunch here. Carapaz, Yates, Bernal all still there.

Mechanical for Bardet..

He loses his chain and that's a horrible momentum killer at the start of a climb such as this.
It's hot work, dominating a Grand Tour stage..
Ineos are back on the front of the bunch now with Pavel Sivakov. Sam Oomen has pulled off for Jumbo, job done.

12km to go – Caruso has begun Velefique

And meanwhile, back in the bunch Jumbo have just gone subtly up a gear or two. They want a high pace to discourage attacking, the famous mountain train tactic employed by all the sport's most dominant teams, from US Postal to Sky, to Ineos.

Not even the doyen of British bike writing himself can work it out

15km to go – I'm calling it for Caruso

Unless the Italian pops spectacularly or Adam Yates attacks very early on the Velefique, I simply don't see anyone catching him. He has 4'53" now on the peloton and 2'47" on the four chasing in between.

25km to go – Bouchard leads the pursuers downhill

The chasers – now 2'25" behind Caruso – have begun the descent. Bouchard made the junction just before the summit and immediately takes the move by the scruff of the neck leading them down this narrow ribbon of rutted tarmac. Bardet, Majka and Amezqueta are tucked in behind him.

30km to go – Perfect situation for Roglic

With Caurso being out there alone, he's not a threat to GC, some of the sting has gone out of the stage. I've no doubt we'll see some fireworks on the final climb, but for now it's like a ceasing of hostilities in the peloton.
Caruso just crested the Castro de Filabres, scooping up a few more KOM points. It's a narrow and uneven road that he must now descend – which might cause some issues in the peloton when they come through in 4'18".
Caruso's teammate (and leader) Mikel Landa has four domestiques with him in the bunch. That's a nice position to be in for Bahrain Victorious. They're probably going to win the stage, and have a cushy rider to the Alto de Velefique. Muy bien!

35km to go – Caruso continues his charge

This really is virtuoso stuff from the journeyman Italian, he's forging on and building his lead on the peloton. He's currently tackling the interstitial category 3 climb the Alto Castro de Filabres, which comes before our big showpiece finale.
Right now he's 3'19" ahead of the peloton, with Bardet and Majka still chasing hard behind but not really making any inroads.

Ineos cede the lead

They have let Jumbo-Visma come to the front now to set the pace, which does prompt the question of what they hoped to achieve there by setting the pace for 50-odd kilometres in the middle of this stage?
As Jumbo were taking over, the exciting French climber Geoffrey Bouchard attacked out of the peloton. He must be off in the hunt for KOM points, I think. He won that equivalent jersey in the Giro not so long ago.

40km to go – Status unchanged

And Caruso is really working well here on his own. His advantage over the peloton is now 2'30", while the guys chasing him in the gap between are now a mere 37 seconds ahead of the peloton. I can't see them staying out for much longer.
The question now is when will the attacks from the peloton come? It's still Ineos leading the bunch, which – if they don't actually ever attack – is just handing Primoz Roglic an easy armchair ride to the first rest day. I hoped they or Movistar would do something on the slopes of Alto Collado Venta Luisa, but it wasn't to be.

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You've just got time to watch these before the climbing kicks off again.

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55km to go – Caruso crests the climb

So that'll be maximum KOM points for him as he takes on 14km of descent before the next categorised climb. Bardet scoops some more points when the chasers cross a few moments later, which are enough to help him leapfrog Pavel Sivakov into the lead of that competition.
Meanwhile, at the end of the stage it's apparently blowing a gale.

60km to go – Four chasing Caruso

He's managed to build a lead over them of 1'18" which is very impressive. The quartet chasing is Bardet, Tusveld (DSM), Majka (UAE Team Emirates) and Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The red jersey group is only 30 seconds-or-so behind them now.
Still two kilometres to go before the summit here!

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65km to go – Caruso alone

Bardet did give chase, but wasn't able to catch the Italian Bahrain Victorious rider. Now Caruso has 23 seconds on the next group of riders, which includes Bardet and Rafal Majka. Then, behind them, there's a whole string of former breakaway riders, including Kenny Elissonde, formerly the leader of this race.
It's an intriguing situation for Caruso here. Potentially it's too far for him to go solo. Would he be better served waiting for Majka and Bardet?

"Ineos are out to do some damage today"

Masterfully put by Sean Kelly. They are riding with real intent here as Narvaez takes over the driving from Pidcock.
Of course, all this pace-setting must be for something – Ineos can't really hope to ride Roglic off their wheels, they need to send their key men up the road and force him to chase them.

Sergio Roman Martin and Jacopo Guarnieri abandon

Two more for the DNF list. Guarnieri has been trying to help Arnaud Demare win the sprints, while Sergio Roman Martin of Caja Rural will be missed by his second-tier wildcard team. They must've been feeling really quite terrible today to give it in before the rest day – but it shows you just how aggressive the pace has been so far in this stage. There's nowhere to hide if you don't have the legs.

70km to go – Ineos hit the gas

The men in black and red decide it's time to make the race hard, ratcheting up the pace just before the peloton hits a feed zone. It looks chaotic in the bunch there as everyone tries to get the food they need out of their musettes, while still clinging on to the coattails of Yates, Carapaz et al. The time gap is down to 1'23" now after this forcing, with young Tommy Pidcock doing the drilling.
This has spurred Damiano Causo to attack out of the breakaway, with Romain Bardet chasing him. That could be the end of the 11-strong breakaway that took so long to form. Still 12.5km to the summit.

80km to go – Bardet calls for the doctor

It's unlikely we'll look back on this as a moment of great import for the battle for the green jersey, but Lilian Calmejane has won today's intermediate sprint.
1. Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën Team), 20 pts
2. Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), 17 pts
3. Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), 15 pts
4. Romain Bardet (Team DSM), 13 pts
5. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), 10 pts
Meanwhile, Romain Bardet is getting some treatment from the medical car. The gap seems to be stable now at three minutes between our 11 escapees and the Jumbo-led peloton.

90km to go – Is the break finally settling?

After a full 90km of frenetic racing, the breakaway might finally have been formed. The race is currently tackling the lower slopes of the category 1 Alto Collado Venta Luisa (although we're not yet at the classified part of the climb).
The 11 leaders have 1'45" seconds and Jumbo-Visma appear to have accepted it's now their task to keep the break pegged by powering the peloton. Rudy Molard is the best placed escapee on GC, but he's way down in 20th position at 5'09" down.

This could stick...

So it's really hotting up here. Olivier Le Gac and Rudy Molard (both Groupama) are the latest to bust free of the bunch, and are quickly followed by Bahrain's Damiano Caruso. Then Robert Stannard (Team BikeExchange), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) make an attempt to bridge over. Proper quality getting involved here!
And now, four more chasres have joined – Lilian Calmejane (AG2R-Citroën Team), Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM) . They collectively have 45 seconds on the peloton.

100km to go – Poels brought back, new attack goes

Poels took the summit of Cuatro Ventas alone so he'll add to his points tally in the climbers' classification, but was later caught on the descent. Since then we've seen Rafal Majka, Nick Schultz and Geoffrey Bouchard break free – and that is a quality trio of climbers. They have ten seconds on the chasing red jersey group.
Johan Jacobs has just abandoned the race, that's a blow for Movistar.

110km to go – Poels piles it on!

And that's put the cat slap bang in the centre of pigeon town. The Dutchman attacked on the slopes of the day's first categorised climb, which has led to a breaking apart of the peloton. There are now about 40 riders in the red jersey group, with Poels still a little way off in front. The second group, the one behind the Roglic group, is already 1'15" down – which is ominous for the sprinters. We could see a huge time gap to the gruppetto.

120km to go – Lopez with happy memories of Velefique

Earlier I told you that Ryder Hesjedal was the only previous winner on Velefique, and while that was true – he was the winner of the only stage to finish at the top of the mountain – it's not the whole truth.
In fact, the climb was used by La Vuelta as recently as 2017, but not as the finishing climb. Then, it was Miguel Angel Lopez that won the stage, beating Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Wilco Keldermann to the summit of Calar Alto by 14 seconds, after climbing Velefique immediately before.

Don't you Demare...

The French sprinter just tried to get off the front of the race. Possibly just to get himself a bit of 'slipping room' by going up the road early doors. Then, when he struggles on the climbs, he has a headstart on the peloton. It's a tactic we've seen him use before and it can be effective.
Unfortunately for the Groupama FDJ man, he isn't allowed any leeway and is brought back into the peloton.

135km to go – Rubio and Kuss make it back

There is still no breakaway. With those rapid speeds, Kuss and Rubio had to chase together for something like 12 kilometres after being dropped with mechanicals. That's not ideal on a day like this, with three big mountain passes yet to come in the stage.
Kuss particularly will need all the energy he can scrape together to help Roglic defend his maillot rojo. As I wrote last night, today the wisest course of action for teams like Ineos will be to attack early and often – and Jumbo-Visma must be ready to shut down a lot of attacks. Doing a 12km two-man TT is hardly the best prep.
Opinion: Time to drop the hammer – Ineos can't sit on their hands much longer, they must attack

150km to go – The frenetic start to the stage continues...

Silvain Moniquet of Lotto is the latest to try his luck, but the pace is still far too high to make anything stick. Quite soon the stage will start heading uphill, after an opening 30km-or-so of mostly descending. That should slow the peloton up a little bit and allow a group to go clear.
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) has had a puncture, while Diego Rubio (Burgos BH) also needs some mechanical assistance. Both men have made their way into breakaways already this Vuelta and could fancy it today too.

FAST!

This is the main reason we haven't got a breakaway yet.

160km to go – Nothing doing

We've had a few small groups get off the front here, the most recent being Antonio Jesus Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Nick Schultz (Team BikeExchange). They were brought back pretty soon, however, and for the moment it's altogether in the peloton.

"The Angliru of the south..."

I've never heard Velefique described as such before, but it's a good way of characterising this very difficult, very cruel climb that our stage today finishes on.
The last winner at Velefique was Ryder Hesjedal way back in 2009, so it's hardly a hot favourite of La Vuelta's organisers. I believe that may even have been the mountain's debut in the race.

185km to go – We're underway

There is much on offer for the fugadores today, with a real shot of the breakaway going all the way to the line. As you'd expect, there's been serious interest in getting in the move. Right now Robert Stannard is off the front with a small gap, whie Andreas Kron and Damien Touze chase him down.
I wouldn't be surprised if the wrestle to make the escape goes on for quite some time this morning.

CSI Alicante

Rarely if ever have I seen a fan-created reconstruction of a specific crash in a bike race, and yet that's exactly what Twitter user Alejandro Santamaria has gone and done at the site of his namesake Valverde's chute earlier this week.
It's a testament I suppose to the esteem that Valverde is held in that these guys went up to check it out – and to understand just how much worse the crash could have been for Old Bala.

Good day one and all!

Welcome to the live blog for Stage 9 of La Vuelta. It's a big-n-bumpy one today, classic Vuelta fare, with a punishing Especial category climb to finish things off. With a rest day after the weekend, this is a primo opportunity for the likes of Ineos, Astana and Movistar to have a pop at Roglic and Jumbo-Visma.
I for one can. not. wait.
Vamos!

Stage 8 recap

Fabio Jakobsen seized a second stage victory at the 2021 Vuelta in what ended up being a very fast finish into La Manga.
The 24-year-old Dutchman opened his sprint at the perfect time after being guided masterfully through the maelstrom by his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates.
Jakobsen, who also triumphed on Stage 4 in Molina de Aragón, delivered when it really mattered after a flat 173.7km route from Santa Pola.
The points garnered from his win today were enough for Jakobsen to unseat Philipsen from his position as leader of the green jersey competition. Jakobsen will now get the honour of pulling on the maillot verde as the race returns once again to the mountains.

'Magnificent' - Watch Jakobsen storm to thrilling victory in La Manga

How can I watch the Vuelta?

You can watch the race unfold on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app and Eurosport 1 across the three weeks.
An ad-free livestream of the Vuelta a Espana 2021 will run throughout the event on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.

Expert analysis

Speaking on The Breakaway couch, Adam Blythe and Cherie Pridham broke down the approach of Primoz Roglic and the methods of the 31-year-old Slovenian which have proved so effective at Grand Tours for Jumbo-Visma - and at the Vuelta, in particular.

'We never see him attack' - The secret to Roglic's success at Grand Tours as he takes red jersey

"Ultimately, Roglic in the past, the way he has always gained time, if there are time bonuses available, he just chips away at them," Blythe explained.
We never really see him attack, ever, at a Grand Tour, he is always just chipping away at points.
"They didn't do a lot, but he did what he needed to do. That's all he did today. They don't have to control it, they just have to be in the right position and then he can just use that sprint that he's got, the finish he has got at the end of a climb, not many people can match it.
"Slowly, he just plugs away. There have not been many big time gaps, but he has just been able to stretch his lead by doing a minute-and-a-half sprint and he will keep doing that.
"They don't need to put the team at the front to try and demolish everything, there's no point. They can just rely on him at the finish."
Pridham, the sports director for Israel Start-Up Nation, added: "They are just in the right place at the right time. Jumbo were in a good position with Roglic.
"It was never in any doubt and he was never in any trouble or anything like that. All credit to Magnus [Cort] today - he was superb. What a day!"
- - -
You can watch La Vuelta live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.
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